Charging with ultrasound: uBeam has functional prototype

Aug 08, 2014 by Nancy Owano weblog
Credit: uBeam

uBeam on Wednesday announced its first "fully functional prototype," ready to build for consumers. This is a company that on its Careers page tells visitors, "We're on a mission to untether the world," and that they seek people "looking to make tectonic shifts in the world of electricity." The Wednesday announcement has attracted attention in the press because it is all about wireless charging—and many device owners say, won't that be the day of days. Why are we still fumbling with chargers if developers and designers are working in 2014 to craft elegantly wireless products? That is a question that was not lost on uBeam founder, Meredith Perry. Her company uBeam intends to go to market with a wireless charging platform that uses ultrasound to send electricity to devices through the air which can charge portable electronics wirelessly.

Here's how it works, said Engadget: "a thin takes and converts it into sounds, which are then transmitted over ultrasound. A receiver stuck to a phone or any other device then catches those sound waves and converts them back into energy."

Perry, according to a blog by Nick Bilton in The New York Times, noted how this wireless power system could allow you to be on your phone and moving around a room freely while the device is charging. According to Bilton, Perry's intent is to have products on the shelves within the next two years. Perry said two different charging products will be targeted for different consumer types, one product built for homes and offices, and the other, for larger uBeam chargers, an industrial-size product for large facilities. Transmitters could be tacked to walls like wallpaper or made into decorative art to beam electricity to devices. Smartphones and laptops could be equipped with thin receivers. The receivers would convert audio and charge the devices. "We're going to sell directly to consumers, and we'll sell them to restaurant chains and hotels—we are going to saturate the market with uBeam transmitters," Perry said. "In addition to your local coffee shop saying it has free Wi-Fi, it will also say it has free uBeam."

Whether or not your local hangouts will have such signs, one thing is for sure: less burdensome forms of charging will be welcomed, as a TechRadar editor indicated back in May. "Sometimes it's hard to remember we're in the future. That this is supposed to be the point when we have flying cars/space pills/robot companions," said Gareth Beavis, phones and tablets editor, TechRadar. Surely, he said, we are supposed to be in a tangle-free world by now. Beavis asked, "why do we still need so many chargers? The technology is there. Whether it's inductive or magnetic resonance doesn't matter one bit to most people. What entices consumers is the notion of being able to toss down a phone, tablet and pair of wireless headphones on the bedside table and have them all fully charged by the morning."

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Explore further: Qi wireless charging standard offers more design freedom

More information: Qi wireless charging standard offers more design freedom: techxplore.com/news/2014-08-qi… tandard-freedom.html

uBeam: ubeam.com/

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User comments : 30

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PPihkala
5 / 5 (3) Aug 08, 2014
We are using wires because any wireless system is less efficient and produces more pollution. Pollution means in this case energy that does not charge your device but warms or otherwise harms the environment. We people can not hear ultrasound but where are the ultrasound based remote controls? Our pets, like cats and dogs could hear them, because they used rather low ultrasound frequencies. So are these charging transmitters again driving our pets crazy, or have they learned something to use high enough frequencies to keep most pets happy? Are there any studies about ultrasound exposure? They could have impact even when we don't hear them.
donald_bowins
5 / 5 (3) Aug 08, 2014
Ultrasound, being kinetic vibrations, means that, of all the energy being carried by the sound, the most useful energy you could extract from them is dictated by the cross-sectional area of the receiver. The rest of the vibrations will dissipate into surrounding materials eg. walls and no useful work is done. I am going to bet that a massive proportion of energy is lost and that the entire process is laughably inefficient.
MR166
not rated yet Aug 08, 2014
This is just another giant hoax being promulgated by a scientifically ignorant press. The next step is to get crowd funding and cash in.
Pexeso
5 / 5 (2) Aug 08, 2014
The low efficiency and annoyance of pets would be probably the largest problem here (but it could deter the mice and insect instead). Otherwise such a technology has only an advantages over inductive charging - it's looks relatively safe for humans, it cannot induce sparks and fires at nearby metallic connections and it can be localized/targeted more effectively into beam at distance. Also, the ultrasound transducers can be cheap, lightweight and with no metallic parts.
betterexists
not rated yet Aug 08, 2014
Yeah! Keep Replenishing Memory & Energy to incumbents too. No need to eat or drink.
betterexists
not rated yet Aug 08, 2014
Those 2 girls are just undergraduates. So, can't be butter than so many on this planet with far more advanced degrees!
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (2) Aug 08, 2014
Here is a list of ultrasound studies
http://www.birth....cC5K9LCQ

-indicating that in some situations it could be hazardous. None of them dealt with long-term exposure in home or office environments.

But frequent charging may soon be unnecessary as better batteries and new energy sources become available.
http://www.blackl...ats-new/
MR166
not rated yet Aug 08, 2014
Otto it is hard to determine which is the better system, this or cold fusion. (Sarcasm OFF)
Surly
not rated yet Aug 08, 2014
I don't understand the appeal of this, nor of inductive charging. Plugging in a phone before you go to sleep every couple days is not a burden.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 08, 2014
"I dont understand the appeal"

Soon there will be little RFD transponders imbedded in everything and they will need to be powered. Everything of value including people and animals will be tagged and therefore impossible to steal or tamper with without getting caught.
Mike_Massen
not rated yet Aug 08, 2014
@TheGhostofOtto1923
Why the f..k r u peddling blacklight (BLP) when you know nothing of science & experimental methods & cannot see the base physics & logic of BLP's failings ?

You STILL have not addressed straightforward questions which I have raised before re BLP, eg as asked:-

http://phys.org/n...fic.html

Why TheGhostofOtto1923, in respect of ANY tests of energy sources & especially those masked by high output Common chemical reaction, do you imagine Any video has more credibility than a properly constructed validation report signed off by the person responsible ?

Why do you claim there are answers to all my questions in the videos when there are none, there are only tangential comments - the details of BLP measurement methods are lacking in ANY detail necessary to make definitive assessments of their 'technology' ?

Ghost, PuhLese ! learn critical thinking, experimental methods & above all basic Physics & Chemistry !

Stop peddling please!
Mike_Massen
not rated yet Aug 08, 2014
I will add, ultrasonics has potentially high bandwidth but...

it is not difficult or unusual to select an ultrasonic frequency higher than all animals hear & most insects can feel or even detect.

It is thus possible to transmit power if you need to using this technique but, I do not consider this necessary or even desirable at this time, there are easier ways far more practicable & efficient...

Note: The video suggests a power meter - No. A voltmeter is NOT a power meter, nuff said !

@GhostofOtto1923,
Please don't peddle that which u cannot measure or even suggest you can stand in for the expertise necessary for Proper Validation & its NOT a video, it comprises Proper experimental method in concert with identifying all the imponderables in relation to Someone taking responsibility for the experiment ie. Signing off on the report & NOT just talking about it on a video, FFS - do you get it now ??

Please don't peddle something you cannot analyse or even understand how to test ????
MR166
not rated yet Aug 08, 2014
""I dont understand the appeal"

Soon there will be little RFD transponders imbedded in everything and they will need to be powered. Everything of value including people and animals will be tagged and therefore impossible to steal or tamper with without getting caught."

Otto the above is one scary thought yet you say it as if it were a positive development. Is individual freedom of that little value to you?
Nik_2213
not rated yet Aug 08, 2014
It isn't just the main frequency, but the unpredictable 'beats' that worry me.

And heaven help them if a uBeam unit *or group of units* is claimed to interfere with a car's ultrasonic reversing sensors. Guilty or glitch, they'll be hounded by the auto-insurance industry...
alfie_null
not rated yet Aug 09, 2014
I don't understand the appeal of this, nor of inductive charging. Plugging in a phone before you go to sleep every couple days is not a burden.

If you phone's reasonably smart, and if you want to treat its batteries nicely, that would be every evening, not every few days. I'd venture that for many, it's not just one device to be treated thus. Then there's that crappy little power connector. Subject to sudden severe mechanical stress, like yanking the cable out at an angle - easy way to ruin the phone. They're mechanical! Even normal insertion and removal degrades them, albeit slowly.
MR166
not rated yet Aug 09, 2014
Resonant inductive coupling coupling is so simple and makes so much more sense. The conversion from electricity to ultrasonics back to electricity is highly inefficient. Yes the devices need to be placed close to the charging unit but the same will hold true for ultrasonics.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 09, 2014
"Otto the above is one scary thought yet you say it as if it were a positive development. Is individual freedom of that little value to you?"

-Typical human response. You mean the freedom to cheat, steal, and lie don't you? Don't worry. These qualities gave us distinct reproductive advantages so of course they are difficult to surrender.

But they are incompatible with a civilized world. All of history is the effort to force people to give up their animal tendencies. In the future crime will be impossible. You should be pleased and resigned.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 09, 2014
"easy way to ruin the phone. They're mechanical! Even normal insertion and removal degrades them, albeit slowly."

-Soon phones will be as thin as credit cards and disposable. No room for plugs. Ear buds, vital sign monitors, and other peripherals will be subcutaneous and inaccessible. More reason for inductive charging. Ultrasound can penetrate the skin from a distance.
MR166
not rated yet Aug 09, 2014
Otto the problem with giving up your freedoms is that there is no form of trustworthy government. There never has been and never will be.

People in government will always increase their wealth and power as much as they possibly can.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2014
There has never been governance by machine intelligence. We are crafting it to replace us. We are crafting it without all human failings. It will be entirely dependable and trustworthy.

It will be the god we never had.

Freedom from crime IS freedom of a kind one can only imagine. The confidence that Those who govern us are entirely unable to lie, cheat, and steal, will bring us the peace and freedom weve always wanted.

In the meantime you wont be able to exceed the speed limit. Your car will report you and if you dont have a good reason for doing so, your insurance company will forbid you from driving it yourself.

Too bad lawbreaker.
MR166
not rated yet Aug 09, 2014
I see your point Otto, we should get rid of man entirely and have only perfect robots on earth. Kind of like a silicon and iron version of Planet of the Apes.
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Aug 09, 2014

In the meantime you wont be able to exceed the speed limit...

The easy answer is this - your car just wouldn't do anything but the speed limit. Ergo speed "limits" are no longer necessary - only the proper speed to insure safe operation.
axemaster
not rated yet Aug 10, 2014
Wireless charging is already inefficient enough, now they want to do an acoustic version? This will be even worse for very basic physical reasons. In fact I would go so far as to call it essentially unworkable. At least EM waves can penetrate through materials - ultrasonic waves will reflect almost totally at any air/solid interface. Moreover, the receiver will likely have to be pointed at the source in order to work properly.

All in all, not a promising method.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 10, 2014
"MR166not rated yet11 hours ago
I see your point Otto, we should get rid of man entirely and have only perfect robots on earth. Kind of like a silicon and iron version of Planet of the Apes."

-You really shouldn't mistake fiction for reality. Reality is - machines are far more trustworthy than we ever could be. Which is why we will relinquish political and judicial decision-making to them.
There will still be situations where you will need to exceed the speed limit such as in avoiding collisions and escaping danger. Autonomous cars will need to do this as well. You will need to provide a good explanation for doing this just as they will. But theirs will never be 'I was confused' or 'I panicked'.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 10, 2014
You know - this techxplore sucks. Why can't I edit comments? Why can't I quote previous posts?
jimbo92107
not rated yet Aug 10, 2014
P-Cell technology is able to create a focused spot of energy just a couple centimeters in diameter around a moving device. Right now it's used to transmit data, but why can't P-Cell be adapted to also provide power? A radio signal that powers its own processing would be cool.
MR166
5 / 5 (1) Aug 10, 2014
Yup, P-Cell and cold fusion are both in the same league. I will believe it when I see it. Here is just a little hint to go by, If the company cannot present a reasonable explanation of how the device works it is most likely a fraud. Multisyllabic scientific terms that no one understands are not an explanation.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 10, 2014
If the company cannot present a reasonable explanation of how the device works it is most likely a fraud. Multisyllabic scientific terms that no one understands are not an explanation
-Planes were flying long before aeronautical engineering was developed. Chemistry and metallurgy were in use for millennia before the science behind them was understood. Medicine was practiced long before the science behind it emerged. People were using fire long before an understanding of combustion.

In fact most tech has been developed first and the science behind it came later. It is naive and shortsighted to expect otherwise.
Mike_Massen
not rated yet Aug 10, 2014
TheGhostofOtto1923 showed Ignorance as a Dick of Science vs random trial & error with
Planes were flying long before aeronautical engineering was developed.
Not true as was observed birds, although heavier than air, could fly. Wright brothers extended upon this
Chemistry and metallurgy were in use for millennia before the science behind them was understood.
Called "trial & error" doh, doesnt need QM etc
Medicine was practiced long before the science behind it emerged.
& look how many died from bad ideas as people were experimented upon
People were using fire long before an understanding of combustion.
& Often with tragic results - Burns, explosions etc

TheGhostofOtto1923 being traditionally misleading blundered with
In fact most tech has been developed first and the science behind it came later. It is naive and shortsighted to expect otherwise.
It was not "tech". It was & often & still 'trial & error'.

Discipline of Science please get it TheGhostofOtto1923 !
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Aug 10, 2014
Oh sorry Mikey I try not to respond to trolls.

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